‘Surreal’ play written by CSU alum, Liam Kelly, to open Friday at The Art Lab

Maddie Wright

“Surreal” is the theme Colorado State University alum Liam Kelley aims to achieve in his recent play “Puñeta” and “Música Sibilina: A Sequel,” which opens this weekend. 

The play will be performed at The Art Lab March 8-10. It’s actually two plays under one title, Kelly said. Both follow similar themes and have a collective run-time of about an hour. The plays are about letting go and getting out. 

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“Both plays are admittedly absurd and there are moments of bizarre surrealism,” Kelley wrote in an email to The Collegian. “But while the scenarios might be strange, the emotions of the characters are rooted in reality.”

Rehearsal of “Puñeta” and “Música Sibilina: A Sequel.” (Photo courtesy of Heather Salyer)

“We talk about mothers and family relationships, we talk about friend relationships and we talk about romantic relationships,” said Heather Salyer, director and CSU theater performance senior. “And in the end…they have to learn how to let go of all of it.”

The surreal element should not make audiences hesitate to attend, Kelly said. It is supposed to be relatable. 

“I can’t wait for people to experience something that is at once absurd and intimate,” Kelley said. “Sometimes with surreal or absurd theatre, the audience can become detached because the situations, and images and words are too outlandish. I’m convinced that these plays are relatable despite their absurdity.”

The show will be performed in a small theater, which will provide a more personal and intimate feel for the audience, said Annabel Wall, the makeup designer for the show and a junior studying communications studies, in an email to The Collegian.

“The small space creates and intimacy with the audience, and the dialogue explores the inner pain of letting go I think anyone who’s been in love can relate to,” Wall said. 

While writing these plays, Kelley said he took images, tied them together and made them prominent in the show, including an ominous key, a uncooperative bike rack, killing birds, sentient bugs, nests, temples and bedrooms.

“It’s so intimate and raw, the play is truly a piece of his heart portrayed on stage.”Annabel Wall, makeup designer

“So take all that, add in a heavy dose of my friendships and relationships with my family and friends, and you have the shows,” Kelley said. “They are two stories that I wanted to tell, for one reason or another. I’m not sure. I’m still figuring that out. And I think the characters are too.”

Being a mostly student driven performance, these plays give the director, designers and actors creative freedom. 

“This show has been really great to work on creatively,” Wall said. “There is a section in the play that requires gore makeup, which was really fun to play with. We use scar wax, rice, red lentils and lots of fake blood to create a creepy and shocking effect for the story.”

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The plays are notable for their use of real emotions, Salyer said. 

“It (is) just so moving; it’s hard to explain because it is disorienting and disjointed…” Salyer said. “It’s very beautiful and sad.”

Where: Art Lab

When: March 8-10, 7:30 p.m.

Collegian reporter Maddie Wright can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @maddierwright.